Nearly 200 people received free medical care at a Mission Clinic sponsored by AdventHealth Hinsdale and AdventHealth La Grange near Chicago, Illinois, United States, to help individuals and families who cannot afford health-care services.
“We saw a record number of community members compared with past clinics,” Bela Nand, chief medical officer for AdventHealth Hinsdale/La Grange and medical director of the clinic, said. “Overall, it was a phenomenal success.”
The five-hour clinic in October 2022 at Lyons Township High School South Campus in Western Springs offered medical evaluations across multiple specialties, along with opportunities to connect with resources for ongoing care. “The goal of the Mission Clinic is not just to provide care in that moment for community members, but to ensure that they can receive ongoing care and support beyond the clinic itself,” Nand said.
More than 70 AdventHealth volunteers, including physicians and clinical and non-clinical team members, staffed the clinic, along with more than 70 additional volunteers from social services partners and the Hinsdale Hospital Junior Board.
“We had so many volunteers that we had to turn some away,” Nand said. The abundance of volunteers allowed the clinic’s organizers to provide a navigator to accompany each person attending the event. Most navigators spoke English and at least one other language, and they were matched with attendees based on their primary language to ensure every patient had a pleasant and productive experience.
“We saw people as young as two and as old as 80, and many different races and ethnicities were represented,” Nand said. “Some people came from 20 to 30 miles [32 to 48 km] away, including many from Chicago.”
Medical services provided at the clinic included health screenings, primary care, orthopedics, podiatry, school and sports physicals, eye exams, dental exams, flu shots, physical therapy, free medications (based on an exam at the event), and diabetes, nutrition, stroke, and opioid overdose education. Stations for eye exams, dental exams, and school and sports physicals were the busiest at the clinic, and many people took advantage of screenings for diabetes and hypertension.
“We did a lot of blood sugar checks,” Nand said. “One was for a man whose diabetes was out of control, and he did not know it. We got him to see a physician, connected him with an eye doctor, and gave him a free 30-day supply of medication.”
Daphne Tessalee, a family medicine physician at AdventHealth La Grange, administered flu shots and provided primary-care services, including school and sports physicals, at the clinic. “It was pretty much full throttle the whole time,” she said.
Attendees also received evaluations and referrals for social services as well as referrals to food pantries and counseling services. Chaplains were on hand to provide spiritual care, and local partners including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, ICNA Relief, and PT Solutions also provided services at the event.
Current economic conditions, including high prices for goods and services due to high inflation, contributed to the record turnout at the clinic, Nand said. “The need is beyond health care and includes housing, food, and household paper products, such as toilet paper and paper towels,” she said. To help address some of these needs, teenagers from the Hinsdale Hospital Junior Board assembled more than 100 bags of food and paper products that were distributed to patients at the clinic.
One elderly woman spent two hours visiting every station at the clinic. As Nand walked her out, the woman stopped, realizing she had forgotten to thank the navigator who had stayed at her side the entire time. “She went all the way back in, found the navigator, thanked her, and then left,” Nand said. “She was so appreciative. For her, it was helpful not just to get health care, but it was also a social outing.”
AdventHealth sponsors the clinics to advance its mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ. “Providing free care and services in the community is a direct reflection of our mission,” Nand said. “The clinics also reflect our emphasis on whole-person care. By providing health care as well as social services and spiritual care, we are caring for the body, mind, and spirit.”
Tessalee, who also volunteered last year at a Mission Clinic in Hinsdale, encouraged other AdventHealth physicians and team members to join the effort. “There is a large underserved population in our service area, and this is a great way to give back to the community,” she said.